Mayday Garage | Formula D Irwindale: Maydaydphan’s Perspective

Formula D Irwindale: Maydaydphan’s Perspective

The FormulaD champion... rookie Daigo Saito!

A little over 2 years ago, Mayday Garage rolled 7 deep to cover FormulaD Irwindale, and that was the last time any of us had attended the event. Two years pass by and I had to decide between FormulaD Irwindale or SEMA in Las Vegas. What would you guys have decided?

I decided to cover FormulaD because I’ve been itching to watch some drifting action. SEMA is cool and all, but it’s not as exciting as watching cars trying to keep up by staying within inches of each other . Since it was a last minute decision, the other guys either had to stay back in town to work or were just not available. I could have attended both events, but that would be too many days off from my normal daytime and part time job. Yes, I do have a full time job working in a hospital and a part time job as a wedding videographer shooter. This is why you don’t see my event coverages until a month or two later. Actually,  I’m just lazy as fuck after work.

Initially, I was already booked for SEMA, but since I wanted to do a motorsports related event coverage this year I decided to cancel my Las Vegas tickets and book tickets to Los Angeles a month before. Once I booked the tickets, I hit up John Zhang aka 1013mm and asked if I could stay at his place. He did not hesitate at all to offer his place for me to stay at (Thanks again JZ!).

I finally arrived to L.A. on Friday, the qualifying round, that afternoon. I didn’t want to be a bother on anyone so I rented a car. I was expecting a Kia Spectra or a Rio, but they gave me a nice white Nissan Altima instead. Right after I got the car, I had to find something to eat. I decided to eat some In-N-Out since it has been a tradition each time I’ve been to the West Coast. Once I was done chowing down I headed straight to Irwindale Speedway for the qualifying rounds with the runs. I knew I was not going to make it in time for the track meeting, so I just stopped by a nearby Walmart and dropped off a deuce. Be glad I did not document this part of my trip….

You can't tell from this photo but LAX was busy as hell...

You know you're at LAX when you see this Jetson cartoon looking restaurant...

Being my asian self, I had to look for the best deal... which led me to Avis.

They gave me an Altima...

So I did what we would always do...

I slapped a sticker on it.

First meal of the trip... Animal style double double and some fries.

Walking back to my car, I found this matte black Miata outside of Jamba Juice...

I arrive at Irwindale Speedway and I could see and smell smoke flowing from the “House of Drift”. I parked my Nissan rental and walked over to the media check in booth and obtained my wristband. I could hear the loud roaring sounds of LS/2J/VQ engines passing by every 5 minutes. I knew it was too late to get a media vest to get on the track, but I still tried anyways. Of course they declined, so I took some drift shots from the stands.

Dark cloudy skies means overcast and soft light exposed photos...

Just walking towards the entrance, Abbitt's WRX (now sold) sits at the front row next an FRS...

By the time I was out there, Walker had a bit of trouble....

Jeremy Lowe's FC RX7 was one of the cleanest looking cars out there....

Tyler McQuarrie showing some smoke in his Hankook Camaro SS.

RETAKS driver Ryan Tuerck...

It's always fun watching one of DA's OG member, Chris Forsberg...

I don't think they were supposed to do any tandem's yet while qualifying...

Damn you pole!

Did I mention Jeremy Lowe was just a rookie...

Kyle Mohan exiting the 1st turn in his turbocharged RX8...

While in the stands... I spotted Abbitt at work.

The RS-R S15 was driven by Toshiki Yoshioka. The RS-R livery really makes the car stand out.

I'd hate to be the one behind Pat Mordaunt's Lexus SC430...

How does he even see??

A wider panning shot of Tyler's Camaro SS.

I wonder how Chris Forsberg feels about switching from the 350Z Vert to a 370Z.

Mr. Aasbo looking good in his Scion TC.

Throttle all the way...

I spotted Life Blaster's Andrew Bohan looking like Indiana Jones coming out of the track.

I got a bit tired of shooting from the stands so I walked around the vendors area to check out some of the booth cars…

The Falken booth always repped by some nice looking cars...

From what I remember, these HRE 590RS's were dipped in gold and for sale...

Walker's LS 240 getting some TLC from the significan other.

What better way to dispose of tires than to give them away for free! I hope people don't try to mount these.... since they have holes drilled into them.

On the other side of the Falken booth, drivers for the Falken team would interact with fans.

Dai's 2011 FormulaD Championship winning S13..

Fans errwhere.

Each drifter has a certain feature or characteristic... check out that hair!

FD drivers were treated like rockstars... they were being interviewed and everything.

It got crowded at the Falken booth so I checked out the HRE booth and found this very clean AE86...

Here

Later on I heard it was F20C powered... not an uncommon swap, but was definitely clean.

Lucas oil brought out their jet car... we had marshmellows on standby.

OMGDRIFT's Honda Element on Enkei Raijin's. Car looks better in matte black than green imo.

Ken Block's rally/gymkhana ready Ford Fiesta attended the event. I heard he even did a bit of drifting around the track...

On the opposite side reppin for Hoonigan was Brian Scotto's RWB Porsche 911.

Behind the booth was the SpeedHunter's section. They had up to 6 cars at one point of the show. Here you can see one of their past featured cars, Bisimoto's TT Porsche 911.

Prob one of the quickest Porsche's in the world... I think!

50 shades of grey?

Another vehicle chosen to show at the SH's booth was this rusty Civic wagon.

Damn, that guy is staring pretty hard.

I can see why now.

I left Irwindale and headed towards JZ’s house because it started to get dark.  He only lives 15 minutes away in Alhambra (if you stalkers need an address, just hit me up for his). That’s pretty awesome since it takes most of us back home at least an hour or two to get to any big track. That’s life in Texas. Everything is spread out.

Once I was settled into a room at JZ’s place, I would watch him work on photos while Courtney got ready to go out. Did I mention it was JZ’s birthday weekend…

Courtney and John Zhang (JZ or Mr 1013mm) before the soju shots....

The talented photographer, Julian Morales, and Courtney... after a couple of drinks...

 

John and Mr. Night-Import, William Lee.

Andy K from NWMotiv and Clifford Sutrisno attended the celebration as well..

A toast for John's birthday with Clifford and Ben Young.

Soju shots are pretty gross btw...

It's his birthday...

"Please, no more!"

That night, I got to meet automotive photographers Richard Thompson (not pictured), Steve Demmitt, and J.J. Batte....

I'm glad I was able to document this side of John...

Serious conversations going on...

I noticed some of John's favorite lines, "Whoop whoop!"

I have no idea what happened...

While waiting for our car, John harassed and raped this nice M3 owned by Cliff...

I got up the next morning around 8 a.m., but thanks to the time difference between Houston and L.A., I was pretty well rested. I texted JZ to see if he was up yet, and he said he had been up detailing Courtney’s car since 6 a.m….

JZ been at it since 6am....

I want that jacket John!

Bball shorts and sandals... true asian style.

We stopped by Starbuck’s for some coffee since roll-in would take forever according to JZ and Courtney.

They didn't know I was their paparazzi for the day...

His and hers...

The line to the Hellaflush car show was packed....

Yogi of Fatlace/Hellaflush/Illest says hi to JZ.

Even these girls from SpeedHunters stopped by JZ's car...

Last minute preparations were needed for the Hellaflush show...

I didn't get many shots at the Hellaflush show, but there were a few nice builds out there like this CF bodied Miata.

Check out that CF...

 

This is probably the only MR2 Spyder that I like.... prob why it took home a Hellaflush award.

 

I can't imagine driving this low around LA....

If you follow the Royal Origin guys, they're pretty hardcore and have about 25+ members with some nice rides...

Nimo's IS300... I heard this car was put together in less than a week...

 

Sadly, I didn't get anymore shots of this car during the day... a 1UZ Matte Green Cressida with a rusted Mrs. Domo on the hood...

Another Royal Origin member, Minh, drives his IS350 to park with his group...

 

I wonder if he drives with those on daily...

I got bored of the cars at the HF show, so I snapped a few photos of the venders booth and drift cars.

2JZ? No shit!

I also got to meet Tram Tran who did a couple of shoots for SH's awhile back and it now looks like he's doing a video project at FD.

Only a few wheel companies attended the event like HRE wheels...

Radium Auto's EG civic...

Is there not a dirty EK Civic in the world? Most of the ones I've seen are clean...

Spotted JZ playing around with Armin Ausejo's Nikon D4.... pretty jelly.

Behind them was this E90 M3 on TE37SL's at the APR booth...

Pretty rare to see an R32 nowadays... sucks for Ian Fournier didn't qualify for the competition.

Check out what was under his hood...

Back at the SH's booth, another car was added, Jon Sibal's Dodge Challenger.

Gotta love SSR SP1's.

The GREDDY FR-S getting worked on....

While Ken Gushi works the cameras...

Saw this shirt as we were waiting in line for some food... badass.

The West Coast FR-S owners were already ahead of the game such as Noel Barnum's here....

 

Prob the lowest FR-S in the world...

I jumped back to the APR booth and got a picture of this big ass GT wing for the FR-S....

I had about 2 minutes to snap this photo before I had to go back for the driver's meeting then mandatory media meeting.

I got there in time for the drivers meeting, but I didn't feel like getting in the way of the other working photographers... so I just chilled in the back and got what I could with my 70-200mm...

I have no idea who that is, so I'll just call him Rob for now. Rob explained the schedule and setup for the drivers that qualified...

Pretty sure Ken got bored and napped for a bit...

I bet Aasbo did as well.

Nate Hasslehoff was in attendance for SuperStreet magazine...

I want a badass track suit with my name on it one day...

Once I was done with the mandatory media meeting, I took a bunch of random photos…

Like these working women of the Achilles tire booth...

I have no idea how I saw this, but I'm glad wasn't hidden on the Keep Drifting Fun van.

<3 the Hankook girls...

I forgot what game they were playing but it involved being blindfolded and some choking...

Gotcha dude!

I found a chip in the wheel...

Lexus brought out a track prepped IS-F...

Aero means serious bidness...

A few lucky people were chosen to ride in the 2012 CCS-R IS-F racecar...

There was a break during the competition so I headed back to the pits to see what was going on…

In order to get a media pass, you had to be approved by John Pangilinan... I saw a few people sneak into the pits somehow...

Patrick Mordaunt waits in his vehicle while they're on a break...

 

A professional drifter at the age of 18... now that's a cool feeling..

The GREDDY FR-S taking a break...

 

Looks like he's praying to the drift gods...

I found JTran cooling off Chelsea Denofa's RX-8...

 

Not sure what type of advice Chelsea was getting, but it looked pretty hardcore...

Style is everything for a drift car...

Like the livery on Matt Field's LS 240....

 

The VQ powered RS-R S15...

 

I heard some people talking japanese behind me and this is what I saw...

Dai's duckface....

I believe at Vaughn Gittin Jr. was in 1st in championship points coming into the final round...

Daigo Saito was either in 2nd or 3rd in points...

Dat wing doe...

Daigo's teammate, Robbie Nishida, did pretty well in the final round...

When you get a break from driving, just relax in the shade...

Relax if you're not fixing or working on the cars...

Relax if you're not busy shooting with a 400mm lens...

Forsberg with the OG lean...

The Achilles team relaxing before the competition starts again...

Most if not all the cars were either LS, VQ, or 2J powered...

Chelsea Denofa instagram's the possum on his rear wing right before his battle against Mordaunt's SC430...

Looks like it was Dai vs Kyle Mohan first up....

Being on the track as media meant you had to find a spot... it was pretty crowded... I couldn't believe some people asked what settings they were shooting in...

Chelsea did very well in his lead run against Mordaunt....

As you can see, Chelsea kept up with Mordaunt pretty well...

I didn't get shots of the last corner but Chelsea lost control and got airborne and tapped Mordaunts SC430...

Chelsea did not advance because of the error...

VG Jr. looks over as he moves on against Nick D'Alessio...

Not sure what was going on...

It was just a constant battle against that bank for competitors against Daigo... Taka was unable to fix his vehicle so Daigo moved on...

Ken Gushi went up against Toshiki's S15... Gushi was taken out later by Matt Field's LS 240....

The hardest part about taking drift photos is trying to get both cars in focus...

 

Rookie Jeremy Lowe and his FC was taken out by Matt Fields...

Another mishap with the wall... the victim now was Alex Lee's SerialNine 2J Cressida...

Tyler McQuarrie took the win against Joon Maeng and his Lucas Oil/American Reel TV S13...

By this time the sun was setting pretty quick...

Aasbo follows Darren McNamara's S15 as I pan them on my 200mm lens...

Dave Briggs leads against Nishida's SC300...

Robbie Nishida takes too much of a lead and leaves Briggs behind...

Nishida moves on...

In order to stay in the competition or move on, you had to keep up in the battle...

If they can't keep up, you wouldn't be expected to keep up with the next opponent...

There was a break for the top 8 competitor’s now… so I snapped a few photos to kill some time outside the track….

Santa Claus....

Women love Santa Claus...

 

And guys love models...

#heisthespeedhunter #1013mm

 

While SpeedHunters had their autograph session, Sean K. had to shoot a live feature...

DJ Miki Taka being silly...

SpeedHunters came out with a limited edition 400 page photo book... so they set up a firsct class

Even though Linhbergh is no longer with SpeedHunter's, he was a huge contributor to them....

Mike Garrett was probably used to this...

It got dark so I had to crank up the ISO a bit...

 

Joon Maeng getting some fan interaction time...

The NEXEN girls...

Pimpin..

I stopped by the MotorMavens booth while they kept hollaring at chicks... Look at all the camera pr0n...

Fits perfectly...

I snapped one last photo of this matte black FR-S and headed back to the competition...

As I was getting back to the competition, Conrad Grunewald and Daigo were duking it out... the winner of this matchup belonged to Daigo...

Tony Brakohiapa follows Tyler McQuarrie in their tandem battle...

But was unable to continue after a bad crash with the wall... you can see his wheel rolling around...

Next up was Matt Powers against Ryan Tuerck...

Ryan Tuerck would take the victory and go against Nishida...

Rhys Millen could have taken the championship but was stopped by Daigo...

Tyler Mcquarrie would go up against JTP... JTP would win this battle and place 2nd in the final round...

JTP leads against Daigo...

And that was it...

The winner of the final round of FD and overall points champion...

The Achilles sponsored team celebrates Daigo's victory.

What was the best part of my trip? It would have to be just getting the chance to catch up with friends and people I talk to or follow online. People like JZ, Julian Morales, Courtney, Danny (JDMZipties), Steve Demitt, Armin (NWMotiv), Richard Thompson, William Lee (Night-Import), Stanceworks crew, Speedhunters crew, Linhbergh, Nate Hassler (Super Street), Noel B. (Canibeat), Antonio A. and the Motormavens crew, Royal Origin guys, and a bunch of others I’m leaving out.  I’m glad I chose FormulaD because watching it on live stream is definitely not the same as watching it happen right in front of your eyes.

Til next time…

- Danh -
dphan@maydaygarage.com

 

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